For 25 years, Mac Powell was the voice of Third Day, the Grammy-winning Christian rock band he founded.
Now he's back on the road with his new project, Mac Powell and the Family Reunion, which stops in Walker Theatre Thursday, March 28, for an 8 p.m. show. Fans will hear some Third Day hits along with a lively, foot-stomping, hand-clapping set of country, Southern rock, gospel and some of Powell's original songs.
In a phone interview, Powell talked about his new band and Third Day's legacy.
If you go
› What: Mac Powell and the Family Reunion
› Where: Walker Theatre inside Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.
› When: 8 p.m. Thursday, March 28
› Admission: $20, $25.50, $35.50, $70
› For more info: 423-757-5580
Q: Why the Family Reunion?
A: I've been toying with this idea for many years. I did my first independent country record in 2012, and the next in 2014. When I came to the conclusion that Third Day was going to be done, I knew I wanted to still be a solo artist but have a band feel. Bob Seger and Silver Bullet Band, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band are some of my favorite bands, and that's what I wanted to carry over into this new project.
Q: How did you come up with the name, because you aren't actually related, right?
A: They feel like brothers. I was looking for a name that would be inclusive of not only the guys in the band, but fans and friends as well. When we do a show, we are playing for what feels like our brothers in the audience.
Q: Family Reunion actually played with Third Day on its farewell tour. Did folks know that was the future or was it quietly testing the waters?
A: I think we presented it pretty clearly that this was the next step in my career and what I wanted to begin and establish.
Q: How did you choose its members?
A: Jason Hoard is my producer from my country music, my band leader, pretty much my right-hand man. He and I have been playing music together off and on for about 13 years. He and I talked, working people in at different times, finding out who fit, who was available and who we thought was going to be a good part of the family.
Tim Gibson is my bass player and was bass player for three years for Third Day.
Q: How accepting were your fans of the transition from Christian rock to country?
A: I think the transition is still in process. I'm not really going from one group of people to another, I'm just still making my music and a lot of fans who have known me for years are coming along, and hopefully, we make some new fans as well. We're continuing to do the same things we do — hopefully in front of some new people. We're still making music that is a lot of fun and also encourages people.
Q: How interactive is this show?
A: I have this tag line: "A little bit of rock, a little bit of country, a little bit of gospel and a whole lot of love." We also do cover songs, so the audience will hear some of our musical influences.
It is very interactive. We need the audience to be part of it. If they aren't, it's a lot less fun for us. I say at the beginning of the night that this is an audience-participation night.
Q: You were in your high school marching band and originally planned to be a band director. What prompted the switch from marching band to rock band?
A: When I fell in love with marching band, I thought that was going to be my life. I was a trumpet player. When I went to play with the (college) orchestra the first day, and everybody around me played a lot better than I played, I thought, "I sing better than I play trumpet, so let me change my major."
I still stayed involved with music, but the beginning of Third Day was happening then. I was wanting to pursue that, and that was the dream.
Q: What would you say is Third Day's legacy, and what do you hope Mac Powell and the Family Reunion achieves?
A: I think Third Day was a band that, hopefully, brought about a positive change in Christian music, and was a band that made some music that helped encourage a lot of people in their faith and in life in general.
I hope the Family Reunion's legacy is similar. I think we're probably a little less serious and little bit more fun. But with that fun, we hope people are encouraged. We hope that for everybody who comes, it is something they leave telling their friends about because it was such a great time.
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.